April 15, 2024

NCAA Tournament 2024: Power Ranking the Men’s Final Four Teams | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors

Purdue's Zach Edey

Purdue’s Zach EdeyJamie Sabau/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The Road Behind: The first two wins over Grambling State and Utah State were the type of relentless blowouts you might expect to see from a team that had to hear all year that it was just going to crash and burn in March anyway. The Sweet 16 game against Gonzaga was closer, but the Boilermakers eventually imposed their will on the Zags to win by a dozen. And in the Elite Eight against Tennessee, Dalton Knecht’s 37 points weren’t enough for the Volunteers to overcome Zach Edey’s 40.

The Road Ahead: When the field was whittled to 16 teams, it looked like Purdue was going to avoid losing to a double-digit seed for a fourth consecutive year. But lo and behold, the lone double-digit seed to survive the first weekend of the tournament also survived the second one to set up a showdown with Purdue. Had this game been played a month ago, the expectation would have been a Boilermakers win by, I don’t know, 20 points? More? But at this point, anything seems possible. We really should end up with a Purdue-UConn national championship game, though.

Reason to Buy: Edey’s supporting cast is so much better than it was last year. Even in a game against Tennessee where it felt like the big man did everything, Fletcher Loyer had a big 14 points, Braden Smith had a quiet nine points, seven rebounds and seven assists and Lance Jones delivered the three-point dagger from which the Volunteers could not recover. The guards would’ve been the reason Purdue blew that game in last year’s tournament, but they just might be the reason this team wins its first national championship.

Reason to Sell: Turnover margin. It’s not a problem of Purdue being turnover prone, but it just doesn’t force turnovers and has lost the turnover-margin battle in all four tournament games thus far. Granted, being minus-11 in turnovers doesn’t seem like much to worry about when you’re plus-76 in rebounds, but it’s worth mentioning. It’s something that Michigan State used to struggle with on an annual basis in recent years, and it often played a part in Sparty’s tournament demise.

Will Win it All If…: They continue to feed Edey, who is 64 points away from matching Glen Rice’s record of 184 points in a single tournament. On both ends of the floor, Purdue had a horrid day along the perimeter against Tennessee, and yet it rode its cash cow to victory. Not saying he needs to go for 40 points and 16 rebounds in each remaining game, but we all know he could.